Talk by Elizabeth Schmidt, Professor Emeritus of History, Loyola University, Maryland
To outsiders, the word “Africa” often conjures up images of a continent in crisis, riddled with war and corruption, imploding from disease and starvation. Africans are regularly blamed for their plight. The proposed talk challenges such popular myths. By examining the historical roots of contemporary problems, it demonstrates that many of the predicaments that plague the continent today are not solely the result of African decisions, but also the consequence of foreign intrusion into African affairs. During the Cold War and its aftermath, dictators, warlords, and insurgents supported by outside powers manipulated local ethnic, political, and religious tensions for their own ends. When strongmen were overthrown or cut adrift, other opportunists, including international terrorist networks, filled the power vacuums. Focusing on foreign political and military intervention in Africa during the quarter century after the Cold War (1991–2017), the proposed talk explores the rationales used to justify foreign political and military intervention, the purpose of those interventions, and their consequences. It examines outside involvement as a response to instability, the responsibility to protect civilian lives, and as part of the global war on terror. General points are illustrated by case studies from across the continent. Special attention is paid to the role of the United States from the Bill Clinton administration through the first year of the Trump administration.
Book available for purchase at event
Co-sponsored by the Department of History